Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmases & Times Past

Once upon a time there was a family that moved from the city to a quiet clearing on the tippy-top of a hill, surrounded by forty wooded acres. Their new home was nestled between two small towns in the heart of Michigan. There was a mummy, a poppy and two little girls.
The summers were suddenly filled with barn kittens, fire flies and day trips through the woods, lunches in hand, to the old maple syrup shack. The oldest girl couldn't remember ever hearing the leaves of the trees applauding their creator so beautifully as they did in this magnificent place.
The winters were glorious as well because not only did they live on a hill that was perfect for sledding (right through the woods if they felt daring enough), but the Lord decorated the trees that surrounded them so beautifully each year and covered the ground with a thick blanket of snow that made everything sparkle. It was truly a place of wonder for the little girls.
Christmas had always been a time full of delight and curiosity for the oldest girl, but it was even more lovely atop the little hill. Not so much because of the gifts left by Santa Clause~ By now she had a hunch it wasn't he that placed the gifts so particularly around the tree~ It was special because of the people that surrounded her and the joy of having their own winter wonderland in the country.
Of course, the little girls are my sister and me and the hilltop is where we lived for most of our childhood. I'm so thankful for the memories I have of growing up and especially of holidays spent with my family.

(The orchard in our backyard after an ice storm)
I know I never fully appreciated the sacrifices my parents made by moving us to the country or even in countless things they did for us in everyday life, but I always get more sappy and mindful of these things around Christmas. Of course part of that is because I have children of my own now, but also because the old saying is true that you don't know what you've got until it's gone. My parents and younger sister are still alive, but we live in separate states and my parents sold their property the same year my sister and I married our husbands. Around the holidays I long to go back to that little house on the hill, but because of sacrifices we still choose to make for our own families, it's not possible.
Even more important than these sacrifices, however, is knowing the biggest sacrifice was that of my heavenly Father's in allowing His perfect son to become sin on that cross and die in my place (2 Corinthians 5:21), later to arise victorious over hell and death (Revelation 1:18), and having that revelation makes me appreciate absolutely everything so much more! Because I'd have nothing without him. No hope and not even the air I breathe. And it's incredible to look back over those years as a child (who didn't know Him) and realize that He was there the entire time watching over, leading and sometimes nudging me closer to meeting Him.
I remember the time we had this magnificent lightning storm… I had a huge bedroom window that looked out towards the edge of the woods, and I remember lying in bed, looking out at the blackest night, until the lightning would strike. Suddenly those huge trees lit up like it was day, bending under the force of the wind. There was a flutter in my chest and I wanted to weep at the beauty of it. I had no idea where this feeling came from, but I know looking back it was my spirit's build-in desire to worship the God who created the storm and also created me.
I can recall a similar feeling after an ice storm in the mid 80's. The storm had passed and the sun was shining. It was a world of sparkling crystals! It was so beautiful and quiet. But then a breeze would blow and the icy branches tinkled their music throughout the woods. My eyes and ears were amazed at the beauty, but my spirit was what was compelled to worship. I just didn't know who it was I should worship yet. I'm so thankful that He has shown me now, and has allowed me to see that it was Him that was there and that it was Him in so much of what I experienced as a child.
All the wandering and all the searching that followed those childhood years and He had been there all the while…What a glorious, & good God.
My prayer for you this holiday season if you don't know Him yet, is that you will. I hope you have A wonderful Christmas filled with family & friends… but above all else, I pray it's filled with Jesus.
...Some pictures of Christmases gone by...

Me n' my dad

My little sister

My dad & grandma helping me open my new Fisher Price record player!

My youngest daughter meeting Santa for the first time with big sis. Wonder what Santa was thinking?

My three sweeties & some new toys... 9 years ago.

God bless & Merry Christmas! ~Jen


  1. Aw...this is so sweet! I love the true story, and especially love the old photos!
    Yes, Christmas makes me all sappy too....times of really missin' my folks and my only sister.

  2. I hope your Christmas was magical.

    You are a great story teller.


  3. Christmas was wonderful! Hope it was for both of you as well! Thank you...Life has been a great story so it's a little easier to tell ;)


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